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Workshop Review

The Black Forest Focus on Soft Matter 5 took place in Saig/Titisee, from 24-27 May 2011. The workshop focused on "Self-Assembly on all Scales" and was attended by researchers working experimentally, theoretically and via computer simulation, in a variety of application areas relevant for self-assembly processes. These ranged from self-assembly processes in biology, such as the folding of proteins into 3D structures and the self-assembly of DNA molecules, to synthesis of artificial units, the growth of colloidal crystals (with emphasis on anisotropic particles), and packaging in nano- and microelectromechanical systems.

Self-assembly has proven its value at the macromolecular scale and there are many strong indications that this process also works well at larger length scales. It seems to be one of very few processes, if not the only one, to create three-dimensional systems from units in the size range of 10 nanometers to 10 micrometers. Its relevance as a manufacturing technique has been demonstrated in MEMS packaging and in the growth of colloidal crystals.

All speakers participated by invitation only and are internationally recognized experts in their research areas. The very active participation of Professor George Whitesides (Harvard), both as a speaker and active discussion partner, was seen as a special success of this event, potentially also leading to collaborations between his group and FRIAS scientists.